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Robot cars.. Using hdpe plastic

One interesting aspect of robotics hacking is the broad skillset required; building my own retro computer from scratch was a lot of work but mostly in digital electronics, CAD, protocols like VGA etc.. Working on a robot car implies mechanical, learning about control of motors and servos and cameras, analog electronics and high voltage and high amperage management. Discovering that when a motor jams its amperage doubles and melts your wiring is an eye opener!

One of the bigger challenges I've encountered and generally avoided is making cases and support structures.. You can hit ebay for a bag of capacitors cheap.. But struts or metal or plastic plates, no dice!

Well, it turns out you can buy 4' by 8' sheets of hdpe plastic for say $50cdn at local shops. The thin stuff is used in making pop bottles.. Its strong by weight and light; it doesn't splinter like glass or acrylic.. Instead it tears. You can cut it with a jigsaw or hacksaw or circular saw etc so its nice to work with.

I don't need 32 square feet of material but the plastic guys sell scraps cheap! I picked up some square foot pieces quarter inch and 3/8 inch thick.. Can get half dozen good pieces in multiple colors for a ten spot!

Awesome find.. Good for Bolting pcbs and motors and sensors and such to, for making little ramps.. Wood is stronger but when you want some shiny black plates for making multilevel floors to sandwhich components between this stuff seems ideal. Doesn't break when you toss a quarter inch thick piece straight into a wall either.

(My current little car needs a layer for motor driver and batteries, a layer for distance sensors and radio/wifi receivers, maybe some ultrasonic sensors.. And a little ceiling piece perhaps. Once 'done' could add walls around to afford it some protection and look better.)


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